Greetings and Salutations on the Prophet (PBUH)


As we enter into the new millennium Muslims are facing many challenges, externally from outside forces as well as from within the Muslim world. In the last few decades there has been an enormous resurgence of Islamic thinking and an attempt to revive traditional orthodox teachings. Having witnessed the decay of ‘western society’[1], its preoccupation with materialism and all over decadence, Muslims generally but in particular the new rising generation of Muslim youth have sought to discover their identities and origins.

In much of Europe and North America the Muslim community consists of settlers from the subcontinent[2] and Africa. They arrived during the post-Second World War economic expansion where the victorious allied forces of Europe and America sought to rebuild their economies. The migrants arrived from mainly British and French colonies, accommodated by their hosts who took advantage of the cheap labour being readily available. This was desperately needed to keep adrift with the demands of industrial development. Most of the migrants eventually hoped to return to their homelands after becoming financially secure. Instead though a period of chain–migration took place where first close relatives and friends were sponsored to come over after which wives and children arrived and settled permanently.

When one faces a new more advance culture[3] comes in contact with technology only ever seen in dreams, observes the indigenous nation as appearing more educated, knowledgeable and dominant in their views, it becomes very difficult for any minority to retain its own identity and code of life. The migrant settlers huddled in their own small communities holding on to their culture and civilizations. They became inward looking and tried to recreate their original homelands in the face of changing life patterns. Although most of the settlers managed to retain their independent national cultures they failed in a large extent to pass much on to their first, and second generation inheritors. In the midst of these changes, Islamic values and ideas, the Islamic culture and all that accompanies any civilization became blurred and almost unrecognizable. Much of Islam had been already distorted in the eyes of Muslims by hundreds of years of colonial rule. Now sitting in the heart of their former colonial rulers it became even more difficult to retain an Islamic lifestyle.

Although mosques were built and Qur’anic classes were regularly attended by most of the first generation Muslims, formal Islamic education was not given. Any that was offered was done in an alien environment and style more suited to the traditional madrasah of the Indo-Pak subcontinent rather than the education techniques prevalent in the schools of the West. The new generation spoke or preferred English, French or German rather than Urdu, Punjabi, Bengali or Somali. They were more at ease with the pop culture of the 80s and 90s rather than learning about the birth of a distant Prophet and all that he preached. Islamic beliefs and teachings were inter mingled with the cultural lifestyles of the migrant settlers sometimes almost undistinguishable.

Parts of the Islamic teachings were distorted and exaggerated, especially so by parents who were worried about their children ‘straying’ from the ‘right’ path. Moreover the indigenous population did not understand this strange Eastern religion with all its apparent constraints and regulations. So the up and coming Muslim youth have found it very difficult to marry the demands of their cultural heritage, Islamic beliefs and the demands of a society perceived by most as modern and progressive but at odds with their faith.

Britain holds a large and expanding Muslim community who are key players in the cultural dynamics highlighted above. Perhaps they would have been content to live quietly and evolve passively along with the host community. However events in the 80s projected the Muslim community firmly into the limelight that not only surprised the British public at large but Muslims themselves. In the mid-80s Ray Honeford, the Head teacher of a Bradford inner city school with a majority of Muslim pupils, offended the Muslim community with remarks made about the education system and Islam. He argued against the policy of multi-culturalism, and concessions made by the education authority for special needs of the Muslims. Honeford made derogatory remarks about Islam and its followers. This was followed by huge demonstrations asking for his removal and became known as the ‘Honeford Affair’. This was followed in 1989 by the now infamous ‘Rushdie Affair’. Muslims were deeply hurt not just by the book itself but by press coverage in which the media portrayed Muslims as mad book burning fanatics. During these two instances the Muslim community became united in their demands to be heard and their grievance to be addressed. Moreover they realized that having been dormant for so long, adopted much of the host culture at the expense of their own beliefs they were still considered as outsiders, unwelcome immigrants.

Many Muslim youngsters began to question their irreligious lives and sought for a new Islamic identity – an identity that surpassed nationality, not Pakistani or Indian, Arab nor British but Islamic in its totality. Disillusioned with many parents who failed to impart pure Islamic teachings, the new generation Muslims began to discover Islam again for themselves. However this is where hidden dangers have arisen, despite sincere attempts to the contrary. In an attempt to return to orthodox Islam, some Muslims have become over zealous. Many blamed the culture of their forefathers, particularly the Pakistani culture in having contaminated Islamic teachings. Where was the ‘pure’ Islam revealed 1400 years ago? What was this Islamic concoction preached to us by our parents? What does it really mean to be an active practicing Muslim?

Impatient for revival many Muslim youth have adopted the outward obligations of Islam, praying five times a day, adhering to strict Islamic dress codes and implementing all the fundamental beliefs in their daily lives[4]. They are able to quote readily sections of Qur’an and hadith[5] and implore others to come to the path of Islam. Unfortunately in the midst of reformation, there is often a lack of true understanding of Islam – its heritage and true moral values. These are essential if a balanced way of life is to be lived.

One such misunderstanding is the position of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) in Islam. Some of the new generation Muslim youth have in essence reduced him to a Prophet alone, who came with a message sent by God. They believe his value lies in the message he brought rather than in the personality itself. Unfortunately this is a misguided and erroneous concept. Perhaps this view is understandable since the original Muslim settlers seemed only to be attached with the personality of the Prophet rather than what he taught. They discussed his life, his personality and wonders rather than implement in their lives the Qur’anic injunctions that were Divinely revealed to him. They claimed to love him dearly and celebrated his birth but failed to act upon his sunnah[6] and live the way he lived.

Witnessing a dichotomy between belief and actions, sections of the Muslim youth have sought to readdress the balance. Unfortunately they have gone to the other extreme and become unbending. They argue that Islam is based not on love but on obedience alone. They are convinced that the purity of tawheed[7] can only be achieved by eliminating from the faith, love, respect and all emotional attachments with the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Extreme love and reverence for the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) for them has become irrelevant in Islam.

Unfortunately this is an erroneous and misguided view. By maintaining the outward practices and obligations of Islam, but departing from the idea of the fundamental significance of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) they have decentralized religion, belief and practice from the pivot of love of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). Consequently this results in the denial of the necessary and final authoritativeness of the sunnah and hadith. By inculcating in the minds of the Muslim youth that love and extreme respect for the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) is contradictory to the teachings of Islam is a dangerous by product of the recent Islamic resurgence.

Religious practices such as offering prayer, performing hajj, giving zakat, keeping fasts, preaching, and spending in charities comprises the body of Islam. The extreme love and reverence of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) constitutes the soul of the body. Both the body and the soul are combined to make a human. A soul can exist without a body as it did in the spiritual world. It exists in the material world and it will continue to exist until the Hereafter. However, a body without a soul cannot exist instead it decays. Similarly our practices and good acts without the love of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) can never be proved to be fruitful, everlasting or rewardable. Like the soul, the love of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), even in its abstract form can remain positive and earn reward. However, it would not be a complete and productive eiman[8]. Although the love of the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) helps a man to restore its relation with the body, an enlightened and strong eiman can only be achieved by combining the soul and the body. Religious acts and obligations must be strictly adhered to as well as developing love for the Holy Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).

It is in this context that this series of books on ‘aqaid[9] have been written in order to readdress the balance. Sending salutations and peace upon the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم), salat and salam, is one manner in developing a spiritual attachment to him. If it is done lovingly and with care then any Muslim will benefit practically by having the love of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) as motivation to adhere strictly to the Islamic way of life. Moreover at the same time he or she will be able to achieve spiritual guidance and contentment by developing a hearty attachment to Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم). In recent times this beautiful pious act has been neglected and ignored in attempts to "purify" the ‘aqeedah of the Muslims. This book hopes to clarify the position relating to salāt and salām upon the Prophet and hopes the reader will receive some form of spiritual benefit.

1. A term loosely used to describe the dominant culture prevalent in Europe, the Americas and elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere.

2. Large numbers have arrived from South Asia, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and surrounding countries.

3. A culture having being able to develop largely due to economic prosperity.

4. Much of which was lacking in the lives of their parents and surrounding communities.

5. The sayings and traditions of Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).

6. The practical actions, norms and customs of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم).

7. Islamic monotheism.

8. Arabic word for faith.

9. (plural of ‘aqeedah) doctrines.

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